Knowing some of the problems he's had over the years with his knees and shins, Whetstone High School junior Evan Schwartz decided to run low mileage and short bursts throughout most of the summer to keep in shape for cross country.

Knowing some of the problems he's had over the years with his knees and shins, Whetstone High School junior Evan Schwartz decided to run low mileage and short bursts throughout most of the summer to keep in shape for cross country.

One of two Division I regional qualifiers a year ago along with senior Wade Westbrook, Schwartz has been running with a sense of urgency -- and hasn't been afraid to let his teammates know it.

Among the Braves' biggest goals this season is qualifying for the regional as a team, and the performances of Schwartz, Westbrook and an increasingly tight pack could have them on their way to reaching that achievement.

"Most of our team went up to Michigan together over the summer just to get in some extra miles," Schwartz said. "It's all about the hard work. If we can (make it to the regional), it would be the first time in a long time for a City League team making it that far. I tell them that we should give it our all because this might not come along again."

Schwartz, whose team finished seventh (202) in the Division I district 1 meet last year as the top four teams advanced, has dropped more than 30 seconds from the times he was running at this point last year.

He won the home Arrowhead Invitational on Sept. 23 in 16 minutes, 26 seconds, which was his second-fastest time this season after running 16:07.43 to finish third in the Central Ohio Invitational on Sept. 19.

Westbrook, who ran 16:13.02 to finish sixth at Central Ohio, said he and Schwartz have the school record of 15:46 set in 1991 by Matt Bachman in their sights.

"We've had a really good season so far," said Westbrook, who also plays for the boys soccer team. "I really just try to go out there and give Evan a good race."

Sophomore Alexander Singer has stepped in as the No. 3 runner after usually being the Braves' No. 6 runner last year. Seniors Alan Dill and Brian Adams also are back after being among the top seven last year, and senior Spencer Tuttle is a first-year runner who has contributed. Juniors Habeeb Al-Ghawi, Chris Kelly and Tom Kocab are others who have been competing.

"The guys are really working hard," coach Joe Monda said. "We're trying to get our fifth guy going as strong as possible. The biggest thing is making sure we're healthy. Evan is off to a good start. He worked all summer so it's no surprise, and Wade is right there behind him. That's a good one-two punch for a lot of big meets."

•The boys soccer team led defending City League-North Division champion Brookhaven 2-0 but couldn't hang on in a 4-2 loss Sept. 22.

While the setback hinders the Braves' hopes of winning the conference title, coach Kerry Nixon thinks his team learned about mental toughness during the contest.

"After the game, one of the things they said in the huddle is that they'll be ready to go (for our next game)," Nixon said. "You could tell they rededicated themselves for the rest of the season."

Kocab and Kelly, like Westbrook, have been key contributors in both cross country and boys soccer. Kocab has helped lead the midfield and Kelly scored three goals playing up front in a 7-0 win over Beechcroft on Sept. 17.

Whetstone plays today at Northland and closes the league schedule Tuesday at Mifflin and Oct. 8 at Centennial.

"Brookhaven is the best team we've played all year, and to know we were right there with them for 60 minutes gives us a lot of confidence," Nixon said. "It's been a while since we beat Northland and I know that Centennial is very good. (The Brookhaven loss) motivates them."

•Although seniors Katie Pezzatta and Kristen Dennison have been among the girls volleyball team's top players, the Braves also have been boosted by five sophomores.

Sophomore Quincy Repka has split time in the front and back rows and sophomores Sara Cramer and Lauren McKee both are seeing action at setter. Brittany Bishop and Rachel Wiltshire, who are front-row players, are the other sophomores.

"The kids are resilient and they're hanging in there," coach Errole Rembert said. "It's a tough schedule. For a team as young as we are, they're having some tough lessons. This year we've got five seniors, but we've only got one junior and five sophomores. We're a pretty young team compared to last year."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Whetstone boys and girls cross country, football, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 19 -- Boys: Finished fourth (97) in 11-team Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park behind champion Westerville Central (62); Girls: Finished 12th (375) in 13-team field behind champion Dublin Scioto (23)

Wednesday -- Boys: Finished first (34) in 13-team home Arrowhead Invitational; Girls: Finished sixth (165) in 10-team field behind champion Watterson (40)

Saturday -- At Pickerington North Invitational

FOOTBALL

*Sept. 18 -- Lost to Beechcroft 27-0

*Last Friday -- Lost to Brookhaven 23-20

*Friday -- At Columbus East

Of note: The Braves are 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the City League-North Division.

GOLF

*Sept. 17 -- Finished first (182) ahead of Independence (244) and Africentric (281) at Walnut Hills

*Sept. 22 -- Finished second (193) behind Centennial (181) and ahead of Columbus West (212) and Marion-Franklin (273) at Raymond Memorial

*Sept. 23 -- Finished first (191) ahead of Columbus South (221) and Eastmoor (245) at Raymond Memorial

*Sept. 24 -- Finished first (178) ahead of Eastmoor (245), Mifflin (261) and Brookhaven (309) at Mentel Memorial

*Last Tuesday -- Played in City League match

*Today -- City match at Raymond Memorial

Tuesday -- Division I sectional at The Players Club at Foxfire. Haley Buskirk will compete in the girls sectional tournament at Mill Creek.

BOYS SOCCER

*Sept. 17 -- Def. Beechcroft 7-0

Sept. 19 -- Lost to Grandview 3-1

*Sept. 22 -- Lost to Brookhaven 4-2

*Today -- At Northland

Saturday -- Home vs. Ready

*Tuesday -- At Mifflin

Of note: The Braves are 5-4 overall and 1-1 in the City-North.

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 15 -- Def. Tree of Life 2-1

Sept. 22 -- Def. Hamilton Township 6-1

Sept. 24 -- Lost to Chillicothe Zane Trace 2-1

Last Tuesday -- Played Columbus Academy

Today -- Home vs. Jonathan Alder

Tuesday -- Home vs. Beechcroft

Of note: The Braves were 5-5 before last Tuesday.

TENNIS

*Sept. 15 -- Def. Northland 5-0

*Sept. 17 -- Def. Brookhaven 5-0

Sept. 19 -- Def. Fisher Catholic 4-1

*Sept. 23 -- Lost to Centennial 3-2

Last Monday, last Wednesday -- Played in City League Coaches Tournament

Of note: The Braves are 5-5 overall and 2-1 in the City-North.

VOLLEYBALL

Sept. 17 -- Lost to Columbus West 27-25, 25-17, 25-13

*Sept. 22 -- Def. Brookhaven 20-25, 25-14, 25-23, 25-15

*Sept. 24 -- Def. Linden 25-12, 25-15, 25-4

*Last Tuesday -- Played Columbus East

*Today -- At Northland

Saturday -- At Briggs Tournament

*Tuesday -- At Mifflin

Of note: The Braves were 3-10 overall and 2-0 in the City-North before last Tuesday

*City contest